Scott and I have a hard time leaving our children alone with anyone.
We hate it — both leaving them and how difficult it is for us.
It’s not that we believe we are the greatest parents on Earth. It’s that we know our own shortcomings. And we know other people’s problems are not often visible.
Abusers are the great pretenders. Manipulators. They don’t come with neon signs. They aren’t poor or rich, black or white. They are our neighbors. Our friends.
Scott and I have seen so many children come in broken by parents and caretakers. We’ve seen friends taken out of their homes. We know what it looks like off the television.
As parents and people, we are all posturing. Putting forth the best that we think you want us to be. In person, in our jobs, on the Internet, everywhere. We pick the best pictures for Facebook and the sweetest stories to tell.
Even when we bend ourselves into the truth, the truth isn’t ever: I beat my child. Because those truths aren’t allowed out. They are silent, justified, ignored. They are News at Eleven.
Because of our histories, there are things that we can’t do. We can’t use in-home daycare. It’s not that they are all bad. Most aren’t. But I will never forget the little girl brought in with the acid burns in the shape of her diaper. The police had no proof, and the little girl went home. Her mom was an in-home daycare provider, and those parents kept dropping their children at that woman’s home. And we watched and waited for the next child to show up in our ER. So I can’t do it. I can’t let it go.
And what of all the children still silent in their own personal hells. Teachers, doctors, friends miss the signs all the time. The strange bruises. The hollowed eyes. The belief that it couldn’t be our neighbor, our church member, our friend.
But Scott and I force ourselves to leave the house without our children because our marriage needs it. We have to spend time together without the responsibilities of parenthood.
But it weighs upon us. Every morning of date night, we fight. Not because we hate dating or each other. But because we hate leaving our children. And we don’t know where to put those fears.
Anyone, who has watched my children, knows that I’d rather my children have fun than be reprimanded. I don’t mind having to reteach them the rules. I do mind having another person putting my son in his room. Or yelling at my daughter. And I always check in with my children afterward. I ask questions of our sitters if I have the slightest concern.
That probably makes us the worse parents to work for.
Camps terrify me, too. Random college students taking care of my children makes me want to cry.
My childrens’ school is the one place where I’ve found a level of comfort that doesn’t lead to fighting with Scott. Maybe it’s because I have good memories of school. But even there I’m watchful. Cautious.
I have to constantly remind myself of the line between paranoid and well-informed. And that I walk the wrong side too often.
Sometimes, I wish that we were more ignorant.
But I am too afraid to let go. I’m too afraid that someone will hurt my children.